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WR’s Hunt wrestling through knee injury

Nearly two weeks ago, Noah Hunt laid in the bleachers at Williamsport’s Magic Dome watching his brother compete in the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Area X tournament with a bag of ice on his knee. At the time, the Warrior Run senior thought he had a bursa sac issue in his knee and was trying to stay off his feet as much as possible with the District 4 tournament approaching.

He took that plan as far as staying away from wrestling practice Monday and Tuesday of that week. On Wednesday he did some light hand-fighting, but that was about it. By the time he got back on the mat for a full go on Thursday, something still wasn’t right with his knee.

A trip to the doctor revealed a sprained MCL. In and of itself, it’s not a terrible injury to manage. But for a senior who is trying to qualify for the state tournament for the fourth time and win his first medal, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“I don’t know what the word is for not sleeping, but whatever that word is, that’s what (last) week’s been like,” Warrior Run coach Jeremy Betz said. “I think I got two hours of sleep trying to figure out what the best thing to do for him is. He’s a great kid and you want to see a kid like that go out on their own terms, knowing they’ve done their best. It’s kind of crappy you have this in the middle of it.”

Fortunately for Hunt, after losing by technical fall to Milton’s Kyler Crawford in the 132-pound quarterfinals last Friday night, he bounced back Saturday to win three consecutive consolation bouts to reach the consolation final. Once there, with his spot at this week’s Northeast Regional tournament secured, Hunt forfeited his third-place match to Canton’s Hayden Ward.

The only thing which is going to help Hunt’s knee at this point is rest. He’s been able to do some of that early in each of the last two weeks. Again this week the plan was for light hand-fighting Wednesday and more of a true workout Thursday.

At this point in the season, the rest is more important than the work he would get fine-tuning his technique. Really, the only thing he’s missing out on in practice is his chance to go over opponent-specific gameplans.

“We’re at a point where we’re not going to learn anything new, and we’re not going to get in any better shape than we already are,” Betz said. “We’re also not going to get in any worse shape either. So it’s about trusting you’re in a good place with everything else.”

Hunt’s results to this point of the season is Exhibit A that he’s in a good place with everything else in his arsenal. And the way he finished the district tournament is a good sign he’s found a way to wrestle through his knee problems.

Hunt admitted when he faced Crawford in the quarterfinals last week that he was probably too worried about his knee and how it would react to a hard six-minute scrap. In turn, he lost 16-0 to a wrestler he defeated 14-2 in their previous meeting. But he came back through the consolation bracket with aplomb.

He started with a 47-second fall against South Williamsport’s Gabe Harvey. Then a 53-second fall against Midd-West’s Austin Aucker. Then he was able to grind out a 6-2 win over Mifflinburg’s state-ranked Troy Bingaman before forfeiting the third-place match to Ward. If nothing else, his run through the consolation bracket showed a determined spirit and a mental toughness necessary to navigate the postseason with or without a knee injury.

“I just wasn’t there (in the quarterfinals),” Hunt said. “But after that I stayed on the attack and got them to where I could finish the match quick. After the last one, going a full match, my knee tightened up a big and there was no sense in risking it.”

“He just needed to find enough wins to move along,” Betz said. “We looked at the bracket and said take care of the things you can take care of. It wasn’t a big deal that he lost because in the big picture he could still advance.”

Hunt enters regionals today with a 27-9 record. He recently became the 15th wrestler in Warrior Run history with 100 career wins and is 107-49 in his career. He’ll open tonight against District 2 champion Michael Bluhm of Lackawanna Trail.

Hunt has taken off this year since losing in December to Muncy’s Jacob Blair by a technical fall. He’s gone 20-5 since that loss with three of those losses coming in the last two weeks. Also, since that loss to Blair, he also scored an 8-7 win over Southern Columbia state runner-up Kole Biscoe.

The talent of Hunt has never been a question. Now, it’s a matter of putting everything together and overcoming a balky knee to give himself one final shot at winning a state medal.

“It’s a matter of staying positive and not letting the knee bother me,” Hunt said. “I’ve been working for this all year. It’s about keeping the little things in check now.”

MITCH RUPERT’S REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

CLASS AA NORTHEAST REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

(Top 4 qualify for state tournament)

106: 1, Cade Wirnsberger, Meadowbrook Christian; 2, Jaden Pepe, Wyoming Area; 3, Branden Wentzel, Montoursville; 4, Ethan Kolb, Benton; 5, Owen Woods, Tunkhannock; 6, Bobby Gardner, South Williamsport.

113: 1, Scott Johnson, Muncy; 2, Gavin Bradley, Athens; 3, Kaiden Wagner, Lewisburg; 4, Conner Heckman, Midd-West; 5, Kaden Majcher, Warrior Run; 6, Deegan Ross, Lackawanna Trail.

120: 1, Sheldon Seymour, Troy; 2, Gable Strickland, Benton; 3, Kole Biscoe, Southern Columbia; 4, Blake Wirt, Line Mountain; 5, Ethan Lee, Lackawanna Trail; 6, Joe Rowley, Hanover Area.

126: 1, Jacob Blair, Muncy; 2, Dave Evans, Tunkhannock; 3, Gabe Gramly, Mifflinburg; 4, Robbie Schneider, Lackawanna Trail; 5, Caden Temple, Benton; 6, Mason Leshock, Line Mountain.

132: 1, Kyler Crawford, Milton; 2, Bryce Vollman, Muncy; 3, Hayden Ward, Canton; 4, Noah Hunt, Warrior Run; 5, Michael Bluhm, Lackawanna Trail; 6, Troy Bingaman, Mifflinburg.

138: 1, Patrick Edmondson, Southern Columbia; 2, Clayton Reed, Mifflinburg; 3, Luke Gorg, Hughesville; 4, Ian Coller, Line Mountain; 5, Zack Stuart, Lake-Lehman; 6, Dalton Klinges, Lackawanna Trail.

145: 1, Nate Higley, Sullivan County; 2, Avery Bassett, Midd-West; 3, Mario Barberio, Muncy; 4, Gavin D’Amato, Tunkhannock; 5, Bryce Carl, Line Mountain; 6, Brandon Gedman, Southern Columbia.

152: 1, Wes Barnes, Southern Columbia; 2, Matthew Leslie, Western Wayne; 3, Devon Deem, Montgomery; 4, Logan Newton, Wyalusing; 5, Christian Good, Muncy; 6, Matty Coller, Line Mountain.

160: 1, Gavin Garcia, Southern Columbia; 2, Nolan Lear, Benton; 3, Isaac Cory, Montoursville; 4, Stephen Roeder, Bloomsburg; 5, Hadyn Packer, Jersey Shore; 6, Nick Zaboski, Lake-Lehman.

170: 1, Cael Crebs, Montoursville; 2, Cade Linn, Southern Columbia; 3, Timmy Ward, Canton; 4, Ethan Gush, Muncy; 5, Connor Wrobleski, Wyoming Area; 6, Shane Weidner, Mount Carmel.

182: 1, Dylan Bennett, Montoursville; 2, Jacob Feese, Line Mountain; 3, Alex West, Athens; 4, Alexander Hollister, Western Wayne; 5, Derek Atherton-Ely, Canton; 6, Jonah Houser, Lackawanna Trail.

195: 1, Gaige Garcia, Southern Columbia; 2, Garrett Storch, Canton; 3, Dominick Bridi, Line Mountain; 4, Damon Backes, Mount Carmel; 5, Clay Watkins, Towanda; 6, Frankie Scranta, Tunkhannock.

220: 1, Cameron Wood, Montoursville; 2, Wes Tillet, Southern Columbia; 3, Zach Poust, Benton; 4, Jackson Chilson, Wyalusing; 5, Carter Sauer, Midd-West; 6, Nick Marabell, Tunkhannock.

285: 1, Lear Quinton, Southern Columbia; 2, Emmanuel Ulrich, Mifflinburg; 3, Dawson Brown, Northeast Bradford; 4, Nevin Rauch, Milton; 5, Jack McAllister, Western Wayne; 6, Keagan Braund, Athens.

CLASS AAA NORTHWEST REGIONAL PREDICTIONS

(Top 3 qualify for state tournament)

106: 1, Jacob Van Dee, Cathedral Prep; 2, Nic Allison, Mifflin County; 3, Hayden Cunningham, State College; 4, Gino Serafini, Central Mountain.

113: 1, Vincen Rinella, Meadville; 2, Derek Keen, Central Mountain; 3, Aidan O’Shea, Bellefonte; 4, Hunter Johnson, Mifflin County.

120: 1, Lane Aikey, Bellefonte; 2, Carter Weaver, Williamsport; 3, Aiden Gaugler, Selinsgrove; 4, Cater Stanley, Cranberry.

126: 1, Kaemaen Smith, Cathedral Prep; 2, Jude Swisher, Bellefonte; 3, Taylor Weaver, Central Mountain; 4, Ryan Madigan, Warren.

132: 1, Matt Sarbo, Altoona; 2, Trenton Donahue, DuBois; 3, Alex Coppolo, Bellefonte; 4, Owen Woolcott, State College.

138: 1, Riley Bower, Williamsport; 2, Chandler Ho, DuBois; 3, Hayden Butterfield, McDowell; 4, Kyler Everly, Mifflin County.

145: 1, Paniro Johnson, Cathedral Prep; 2, Cade Balestrini, Shikellamy; 3, Roman Morrone, Williamsport; 4, Lane Porter, Central Mountain.

152: 1, Ed Scott, DuBois; 2, Marques McClorin, Cathedral Prep; 3, Mark McGonigal, Clearfield; 4, Anson Wagner, Mifflin County.

160: 1, Ethan Richner, Bellefonte; 2, Coy Bastian, Selinsgrove; 3, Kelyn Blossey, Cathedral Prep; 4, Campbell Walls, Hollidaysburg.

170: 1, Trey Kibe, Mifflin County; 2, Trent Tidball, Meadville; 3, Lance Urbas, State College; 4, Hayden Kovalick, Clearfield.

182: 1, Ethan Rossman, Bellefonte; 2, Derek Sunafrank, Bradford; 3, Colin Allmond, Altoona; 4, Garrett Starr, DuBois.

195: 1, Garrett Eddy, Punxsutawney; 2, Ryan Aument, Selinsgrove; 3, Ty Price, State College; 4, Jacob Krepps, Mifflin County.

220: 1, Nate Schon, Selinsgrove; 2, Dorian Crosby, Cathedral Prep; 3, Adam Young, Shikellamy; 4, Gage Sutliff, Central Mountain.

285: 1, Blaine Davis, Mifflin County; 2, Thomas Pollard, Meadville; 3, Oliver Billotte, Clearfield; 4, Dominic Sigler, Erie.

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